Don’t make the same mistakes as class of 2k14
You’ve bossed your exams and been on the obligatory piss up to Ayia Napa, meaning Michaelmas at Cambridge is fast approaching.
You’re nervous, you’re excited and most of all you’re sick of your parents rushing around with lists of ‘essentials’. Camtools and social-media hype aside, you need somebody to tell you what life at Cambridge is really like. Look no further: here’s what we’d tell ourselves as last year’s freshers.
First off, clichéd as it sounds, don’t try and be a person you’re not.
Whilst it’s tempting to use this new start as a chance to re-invent yourself, don’t go around declaring a passion for house music if Carly Rae Jepson is your top played artist. Sticking to what you genuinely love has two main advantages: you’ll meet like-minded people to hang out with, and you won’t look like a twat when you can’t differentiate between Stevie Wonder and Calvin Harris.
Equally important, don’t stress about being the ‘stereotypical university student’.
Whilst Buzzfeed and The Daily Mail present students as people with only two concerns – alcohol and getting laid – there’s more than this dynamic duo to look forward to.
If you’re up for necking Aldi Rose at pre’s before clubbing, Cambridge nightlife is uniquely brilliant. But if you know for certain you’d rather do a pub quiz or go out punting, do it. Don’t subject yourself to stuff you won’t enjoy based upon a narrow mould of what a uni student ‘should’ be.
Academically, striking a work-life balance is always a ‘mare.
While your DOS and lecturers will relentlessly add to your workload, learning how to balance it with other stuff is the key to Cambridge. Working eighty hours a week won’t make you happy, nor will working your arse off in the library at 3am 6 hours before the deadline.
Essay crises are inevitable so embrace them: they don’t actually count and the odd shit essay never killed anyone. Incidentally, 60% is now worth celebrating rather than an A Level disaster.
Next, don’t panic about making friends.
Unless you really are a complete bellend, you’ll meet people who enjoy your company. With 11,000 students at Cambridge and hundreds of societies to bring freshers with shared hobbies together, you’ll be hard pressed not to make friends.
On the friendship note, talk to everyone – don’t write people off based on superficial qualities like their age or dress sense: while you might not agree on what jeans look hot, you could find a shared passion for politics, lacrosse or the GBBO.
As you’ll be living in college, ensure you befriend the porters: they have your backs.
From drunk students to homesick or stressed out ones, they see it all year around. Don’t be scared to ask for their help, especially during freshers.
Lastly, don’t put huge expectations on fresher’s week itself.
There are hundreds of fun events going on, from parties to free BBQ’s to society trials, but don’t expect to have the best week of your life.
Fresher’s is a strange week: you don’t really know anybody, by day three you’re sick of explaining where you’re from and likely hanging out your arse – and you don’t know where the nearest supermarket is for your staple fry up ingredients. You won’t be able to make every event, so don’t let FOMO take over. Missing your colleges’ freshers BBQ won’t paralyse your entire university career, we promise!
Remember, everyone’s bricking it – even the kid sat at the centre of the circle who appears to have his or her shit together. Its normal to be super nervous yet excited as Cambridge approaches.
So get keen for freshers: be yourself, stock up on the cheap Vino (Aldi do great loyalty cards) and avoid your preparatory reading. Other words of wisdom include, ‘dump your boyfriend/girlfriend’, ‘go to the big Tesco’s’, ‘Exchange £1 at the bank for 100 pennies’ (for reasons that become clear during freshers!) and ‘learn how to nap’. Solid.
Oh yeah, and let your mum worry about packing lists. We promise you, from plasters to a clothes airier, she’ll remember what you forget.